When I was on the way home, on the road our private road is off of, I narrowly averted driving over fallen power lines. Thankfully, not live! But I had this realization--that I had potentially driven over fallen power lines--only after having done so in a combination of "oops" and "crap", wondering about my safety before it became obvious that, yeah, I was absolutely fine.
...Unsurprisingly, the power was out when I arrived home. Recently so, in fact--it couldn't have been off for too long since the uninterruptible power supply for the computer died moments after I had come home, thus, meaning it was running for not long enough to have already died. (And those things don't last nearly as long as they should. Like, half an hour max my estimate would be.)
No problem for our family, right?
Well, normally, yes.
I mean, no power means no internet, of course. That, nothing can fix. We get our internet through cable service, a cable service which uses power outside of our house, in that even if we gave generators hooked up to our routers and whatnot we still wouldn't have power. I believe anyway. Even if not, even if the cable service is something we could theoretically get...the power line downage was bad enough that I just generally assumed internet had gone kaput anyway regardless of power since internet fails easier than power does.
But I digress. Aside from no internet, our family would have no problem normally. We do, after all, own a generator. (Maybe two, actually, though one I believe we knew for sure was already busted.) One that we relatively-recently even got fixed!
...It didn't work.
It refused to start, no matter how hard my parents tried.
Started fluid? Nope. New gas? Nooooooope. It was dead dead dead.
No microwave. No ability to open the freezer or refrigerators because without the ability to keep them running any escaped cold is permanently escaped cold. (Thus, there was a need to conserve the cold within.) No ability to really have any meal of warm food and for that matter most cold foods either. Basically nothing, for a hungry family.
So, we went out to eat at Denny's. I had my usual drink: Strawberry Lemonade. I had my usual meal: the build-your-own-sampler, with a side of fries. The intent was to have the classical sampler: mozzarella cheese sticks, chicken onion strips, and onion rings. They were out of the mozzarella cheese sticks, though, so I improvised, ordering Quesa with Chips, the most calorie-heavy thing on the menu.
My mom also gave me some garlic bread to eat on top of all that.
I had my barbecue sauce and my marinara sauce as well. When all was said and done, I ate everything except about 90% of my fries. I could have eaten more, but I was pretty full because I ate more than I was scheduled to, so to speak. I also was thinking ahead: already I knew that I wasn't likely to get breakfast in the morning. And while french fries might not be the best of breakfasts, I figured they're not too different from hashbrowns which are a breakfast item.
The rest of the night was spent playing Ace Attorney, but I did go to bed early, since I reached a convenient stopping point, I worked early, I knew today would be a long day (twelve hours!), and I didn't have anything else to do given the situation I had.
Which brings us to today. I woke up feeling a bit grumpy for no particular reason. That lasted for quite a while. Work kept me incredibly busy, to the point where I couldn't eat my breakfast. No coffee was made so my only source was that which the Y provides--they give plenty, but again, fitting the time in was something I couldn't do so I was tired, hungry, and thirsty...
...But once I got those taken care of, I actually felt really, really at peace. I did have to deal with something though--my pigtail that I made was made sloppily because I barely avoided being late for work thanks to me just being grumpy essentially (in that I wanted sleep, I wanted to be anywhere but work for a while and wasn't in a good mindframe for the job, but again, that feeling DID pass not long after I started).
Pieces of my hair fell out. My fix? Use my secondary hairtie to pin the fallout into a second much smaller pigtail on the other side of my head. The asymmetrical look is probably godawful, buthey. It worked! Well enough anyway. Allowed me to not really have to bother with it again all day, except when I also did maintenance on the rest of my hair anyway.
The other thing is, this being a work day, I developed a new story.
Not really new.
In that this is a story/setting I've been developing for quite a while, but it was today when I finally fleshed it out enough to the point where I was happy saying that I'd toyed with it enough, that I'd given it enough, for me to share it with others rather than just keep it internalized.
Basically, the setting is a little bit of a cross between Fate/Stay Night and--cue squees from at least one avid blog reader--One Piece.
...Probably also disappointment from same said reader when they see how little is actually there but it's the closest other thing I could think of to describe the setting. (Basically the protagonist becomes what would be the equivalent of a Seven Warlords of the Sea in One Piece, and the governing body is largely filled with evil and corruption even though there are genuinely good people within at every level from footsoldier to elite commander, with many simply apathetic or selfish instead of outright-villainous, will describe more in a sec, but that's basically the only elements I'm borrowing.)
In this setting--which is, loosely, our Earth--magic exists. It is, however, not common knowledge. A masquerade is in full effect, made easy by certain spells, including spells which can basically freeze time for non-mages and undo damage from mage battles. (Okay that's an element basically borrowed from X/1999, but it's not QUITE like that. It works differently; it's not that powerful.)
For ease of reference, magic-users are called mages.
Monsters also exist. Theoretically, mages are meant to fight monsters. In practice, monsters are widely defined. You can have eldritch abominations, you can have summons (fairly common), you can have contracts, some monsters are more like pets, some 'monsters' are basically humans just with otherworldly powers/origins/beliefs/etc. in that they aren't evil so much as they simply are different (think lots of depictions of Youkai, e.g. YuYuHakusho), but there are of course plenty which are in fact...well, monsters.
Also, mages are first and foremost humans. With everything that carries. They are not a unified organization. They are not all heroes. They do not get along. They have wars. They typically exaggerate traits, in that mages tend to be stronger in areas than most humans: more altruistic, more selfish, more apathetic, more evil. There is an overabundance of crime in the mage world.
The details aren't quite set in stone, but basically there's a mage council of sorts, which has the force of a government. They have laws, they have rules, which are in place to protect the planet. Overall, there are loosely more heroic mages than other types of mages. These mages might disagree and may differ in their motives and so on and so forth to the point of even conflicting, but the council acts as a way of basically forwarding the existence of humanity and the world.
They keep monsters in check. They keep magical madmen in check. (At least in theory. Practice is another matter altogether.) They keep the world as a whole ignorant as to the existence of magic.
I should also mention: mages have basically five types of magic. One type of magic, bloodline magic, is passed down through bloodlines. It cannot be replicated by someone outside of the family. (You know the type. Naruto had this, Fate/Stay Night has it, others likely do as well.) A second type of magic, inherited magic, similar to bloodline magic, is magic which is inherited by an individual. Magic which you can only be given by the person already in possession of it. Some forms of this are able to duplicate themselves, others are one-at-a-time. (These are subdivided, thus, basically five types.)
A third/fourth type of magic, developed magic/innate magic/talent magic, is a unique power that a person develops on their own. This magic can be the beginning of a bloodline, beginning of inheritance magic, not be passed down at all, and/or be developed on top of the other types. In short, you can have this on top of everything, or you can have this on your own, and you can have this become genetic or not and so on and so forth.
And then, there's learned magic. Which is exactly what it sounds like: magic anyone can learn.
Innate magic/talent magic is incredibly common, but many elites in the mage world use bloodline and/or inherited magic (especially if they also have innate/talent magic). But, of course, the most common is learned magic, and no mage worth their salt doesn't have at least some, since no matter how powerful, no matter how talented/skilled the mage, there's always a benefit to knowing learned magic since learned magic comprises 99.99% of all day-to-day magic.
To counter it, after all, you best be familiar with it, and the best way to be familiar with it is to yourself have it, essentially. So even the simplest of spells are considered essential teaching material, such that they are universal standards that any mage would possess.
This brings us to the background of our protagonist, and their development throughout the story.
Our protagonist was not born into a mage family--in fact, they were completely blind to their magic until their late teens, when they suffered what was essentially a magical meltdown. This was the triggering of their awakening, which awoke not only their sensitivity to magical affairs (from monsters to mages), but also their innate magic. Something which was always true of their body was that they naturally produced a disproportionately large amount of magic.
They simply didn't know it. Because they didn't know magic existed, they didn't know they were a walking nuke, with a countdown to detonation as the energy kept building up with no real release--since a release would require actively channeling magic which they didn't know how to do.
They were saved by a wandering mage, who saw the meltdown in action and taught them two basic fundamental spells: a blast (literally the first spell any mage learns), and what's basically a mixture of a healing/reversal spell of sorts in that it can undo magical damage on a smallish scale. This allowed them to unleash their excess, then immediately heal the damage done.
So basically, their innate power is having a godly level of magical energy. But they have a second aspect, which is essentially a combination of telepathy and empathy and yet not either: the ability to essentially 'read' people. Witness their intents, sense their feelings, almost to the level of reading minds yet not quite in that they can get a fair idea of what the person they're doing this is like yet not know the specifics.
This is a passive, always-active thing, similar to the magical buildup (in that they don't choose to become magically active), so they are in a way cursed to always know more or less the perfect way to do most things). So it's with this ability that they basically ask: "Be honest--would I be happy using my powers to help others?"
Instantly, they know the answer from the stranger is "no", because in the world, mages are always filled with all those expectations, all those dangers, all those risks, all those things they must do, and must not do, and standards and rules and laws and so on and so forth, all for a society that has no knowledge of them. And where they can't claim much of a moral high ground given how many of their own are their own enemies.
Basically, the protagonist asks the age-old question: "Be productive, or be happy?" and chooses happiness over productivity...and chooses not to be trained any further in magic and to try and live a normal human life. Knowing magic exists, but not using it except for the vent, and staying out of magical affairs.
You'd expect this to be a temporary thing. Like, lasts for a couple of episodes in an anime only to tragically crash and burn because The Call Knows Where You Live, kind of thing.
But no. It actually drives a significant amount of the plot. The protagonist sees mage-stuff, and then tries to stay out of it. That's the conflict in the book. Not the protagonist being drawn in against their will. The protagonist literally does everything they can to avoid that.
And they SUCCEED. Mostly. Them having the power to essentially sense intentions and feelings, combined with some natural degree of empathy for others, mandates that in a couple of situations they do intervene. Eventually, this does get them in trouble, as they save some less-savory individuals at different times: a mage with intent to kill a corrupt law enforcer that was intent on "something much worse than killing you", a monster being hunted, and the like.
When the council dispatches an assassin-disguised-as-a-law-enforcer to the protagonist's home, the mage-free life comes to an end. This isn't where the plot really begins to kick off, again. Because the plot already kicked off long ago. This is more like near the end if anything.
The protagonist senses the intent to kill, and converses with the "law enforcer" to great extents. This instills in the law enforcer (who is basically a power-hungry lunatic bent on conquest, a would-be evil overlord) some amount of doubt about killing the protagonist, leaving enough confusion such that when the law enforcer does move to make a strike, the protagonist's words and actions are more overwhelming:
The protagonist only knows one spell for attack...
...But being basically a nuke, the protagonist can use that one spell at a REALLY powerful level.
And furthermore. The protagonist was aware the villain was attempting to set up a magical trap of sorts, yet was able to counter it with just that one spell, because while only knowing those two spells...
...By using those same two spells every single day, for years, and getting intimately familiar with them (by this point the protagonist is mid-20s), the protagonist has learned interesting facets about them that nobody else in the recorded history of mages has ever discovered. Because while universal as spells, nobody really thought to use the spells as anything other than fuel for better spells. (I.e. they use the basic spells, but as distractions or as contributors to a larger spell or as something combined with something else to make a different spell.)
Basically, the basic spell is considered so absolutely worthless to anyone other than beginners that nobody really thought about what it could do, except the protagonist. It's not like they thought it couldn't do anything--the basic spell is used to make any number of other spells; many spells are derived from the basic spell, and so on and so forth. Whole schools have developed from taking the formula and basic principles of the basic spell to make more advanced spells with greater versatility.
...It's that they didn't realize that the basic spell, in of itself, with no extras, could do things. The protagonist (largely by accident, no less!), on the other hand...did. In particular, one thing the protagonist found was that by combining the basic healing/reversal spell with the basic blast spell, it could severely harm an opponent by leaving them in a state of near-permanent pain: something they could survive, but would require mage-medical treatment for.
After an honest law enforcer brings the protagonist in for their crimes, the protagonist asks the council whether they knew they were sending an assassin, and is essentially able to humiliate them: "Didn't know and is surprised, didn't know and is trying to save face, knew perfectly well", on every single one of them except for the chief. The protagonist's power does have a limit, in that it can't read literally everyone. Clinical psychopaths, clinical sociopaths, people whose power is greater than their own (of which there's basically none), absolute masters at masking themselves (but even then not a guarantee), and some "random blanks" are all blind spots; the chief ticks most categories but sees potential in the protagonist to be an eventual successor.
The protagonist was to be sentenced to a more severe sentence, but what they got was essentially a slap on the wrist: "You are not permitted to learn any new spells." (They weren't anyway.) "You must have a handler." "You must answer any summons to do deeds asked of you." In exchange, their magical crimes would be made nonexistent, somewhat-pardoning them.
They take the offer, and as a result, earn the moniker/code name Sensation, with the innate magic codename "Curveball".
And from there they proceed to further develop that basic spell. The rules prevent them from learning new spells. Not from developing an existing one. Or for that matter, creating a spell. Even if it's an existing spell, creating it from scratch without being taught how to do so doesn't count as learning. The protagonist uses this to make all sorts of things: literal curveballs, boomerang balls, even twisting and contorting the shape of the magic such that it's possible to use as a sword.
So, Sensation's unique ability, Curveball, is basically...being really, really good at taking people by surprise and doing the unexpected with the fundamentals. Strong in magical power, with immense control over what they know. Their ability to see intent is something also able to be developed into borderline Combat Clairvoyance, in that they can predict an opponent's moves before they are made and thus develop effective counters before the move has been made.
They still get to live at least some semblance of a normal life, though, in that they're more of an "on reserve" government agent of sorts. They spend the majority of their time living their life. That's about as much as I got, so I guess this is it for now.